Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taking the Gran Fiesta Tour

Let's face it. I was very predisposed to like this attraction. So I will state my obvious bias right here at the start. The Three Caballeros is one of my favorite Disney films; in my opinion, very underrated and up until now, largely unappreciated. It was a real delight to see these characters finally showcased in a theme park attraction.

Long in need of refurbishment, El Rio del Tiempo has evolved into a much more colorful, high energy presentation in the form of the Gran Fiesta Tour. Most noticeably gone now are the Aztec references at the beginning and the very weird marionette carousel from the finale. The movie screens have all remained in place and now feature animation that chronicles Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles searching for Donald prior to a planned concert. The attraction's mix of set pieces and film projections is a natural fit with the live action-animation mix of the original 1944 feature film. And unlike the all encompassing Seas with Nemo and Friends, Donald, Jose and Panchito do not overpower the entire Mexico pavilion.

While I always found El Rio del Tiempo an enjoyable diversion, it always impressed me as a bizarre amalgamation of other ride concepts. It was an odd mix of If You Had Wings and Small World, with Aztec history, albeit without the trademark human sacrifice, thrown in for good measure. Gran Fiesta ejects that seemingly obligatory history homage and subsequently pulls the other disparate elements together with a more consistent theme and mood. It's a fun ten minutes.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you as a huge fan of the movie. I think it goes back to being introduced to these characters in the Mickey Mouse Review.

I like the rehab, but found the biggest difference to be the noise. El Rio was quiet and then built up in intensity. This starts out brash and noise as soon as you enter the temple- big change from sailing outside. If it built up the noise, I would have loved it.

Also I don't care for the screen used in the finale. They have AA's for these characters already sculpted (Mickey Mouse Review). That would have just been a little more of a bonus. I know animation lets you do things that physical effects can not, but this would have been killer.

Solid B from me.

Jessica said...

Hi Jeff - glad you enjoyed the ride! I rode it about a week or so after it opened, and loved it so much I went back to ride it again.

I've always loved the Three Caballeros, and seeing the ride made me rewatch the movie along with Saludos Amigos. This ride is a great homage to the original movies as well as a great tribute to the country of Mexico. I was talking to a CM who said that she had always found the original ride offensive to her culture, but loved the new version.

Did you happen to see the hidden Aracuan bird in the scene where Donald is snapping photos? The Imagineers really stayed true to detail on this ride!

Rae! said...

I love the movie,I haven't rode the ride since they re done it.I will have to go and give it a whirl.I rode it back in 2005.

Anonymous said...

I also thought that animatronics of the three caballeros would have been an excellent finale to the ride. Still, it was an excellent upgrade from el rio.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as well.

Gran Fiesta Tour rules!

I don't really understand how some people out there think that El Rio del Tiempo was a "masterpiece" compared to this. They only say that because they grew up with El Rio and hate change.